For his part Gumbel, 53, says his resignation is "something I've been batting around all year long." He denies it had anything to do with The Early Show's stubbornly low ratings (its 2.7 million viewers lag far behind Today's 6.3 million and Good Morning America's 4.8 million) or with CBS's seemingly waning enthusiasm for his talents. One insider heard that the network hadn't yet offered Gumbel a raise on his $5 million annual salary. "It was not a competitive or economic decision," Gumbel says. "I just want to enjoy my life."
And share it too. In December—four months after his divorce from wife June, 53, was finalized—he proposed to longtime girlfriend Hilary Quinlan, 42, a former Goldman Sachs analyst turned model. The two plan to wed later this year, although "I wouldn't be surprised if they eloped," says Early Show reporter Laurie Hibberd. Meanwhile Gumbel—a father of two—will focus on his other TV gig, hosting HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. "He's in the perfect place," says HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg. "There's no need to get up at 3:30 a.m. , and he has time to hit the links and enjoy his summer."